FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was one of the schools that had the most players enter the transfer portal following the 2022 season.
This spring, Arkansas will have 22 new scholarship players in spring drills. More freshmen and transfers will arrive in late May or early June. On Tuesday, Sam Pittman was asked what led to so many players leaving the program?
“To be perfectly honest with you, I think some guys come in and they see they’re not going to be able to play,” Pittman said. “Maybe they’ve been over-recruited or have gotten in a spot where they don’t want to wait two or three years to get on the field. Or they don’t want to compete for two or three years to get on the field.
“Those are guys you understand a little bit more. And then the other ones are guys that for whatever reason, whether it be NIL, playing time, or somebody pouches them from your roster. Those are a different story.”
Pittman saw some players who were slated to be returning starters leave for other schools. Among them wide receiver Ketron Jackson, tight end Trey Knox, safety Jalen Catalon, nickel Myles Slusher, defensive end Jordan Domineck and others.
“I can’t tell you that there aren’t some guys that go in the portal where you go, ‘Oh, OK, I understand it,’” Pittman said. “Then there are some that you don’t. You can’t be both ways. You have to be happy for the young man that made the decision.”
It wasn’t just players either. Arkansas has five new on-field coaches as well as a different strength and conditioning coach. Barry Odom left for a head coaching job, Michael Scherer and Dowell Loggains to become coordinators and Kendal Briles to TCU for the same job he had at Arkansas. A couple others were fired.
“I think, to be honest with you, I think it’s pretty well known,” Pittman said. “I thought we needed a change. Strength-wise I thought we needed to do some different things. That’ not negative against anybody at all. It’s just that sometimes change is good.
I think, to be honest with you, I think it’s pretty well known. I thought we needed a change. Strength-wise I thought we needed to do some different things. That’s not negative against anybody at all. It’s just that sometimes change is good.
“And I think these new coaches … What we learned from it, I guess is the bottom line, is we need to communicate with our kids more often. We need to see them in settings other than just football, which we’ve done. And try to foster a relationship with these guys more than just on the field. I think we’ll be fine. As you well know we had a fall season with a first-time head coach and no practice too. So I think we’ll be fine. I’m really excited where we are right now as far as relationship building with our kids.”
Arkansas’ first spring practice is this afternoon. Click here for an updated roster.